Bipolar has turned out to be both a blessing and a curse to me. It has been a blessing in that I am finally doing something I have always wanted to do: writing and now “publishing” it. I’ve always loved writing but have never been brave enough to share. My desire to help anyone I can has now overridden this fear and so I’m dedicated to blogging and writing my book to do as much as I can to help.
It’s been a curse because well, mania and depression suck. Depression slurps the life out of everything you know and love. I’ve spoken of it briefly, but depression is my least favorite part of bipolar II. I can’t get motivation to do anything. I walk around in a funk and won’t smile, can’t enjoy anything, can’t laugh, don’t want to talk, isolate myself, don’t like doing things I normally love, etc. It’s terrible and debilitating.
The hypomania part of bipolar is something I’m getting used to right now. I’m not IN hypomania now, but I live my life in preparation and fear that I’m going to be. Hypomania can feel wonderful after a depressive episode because it feels like there is light in your life again. Things you couldn’t do while depressed are suddenly open again. However, mania and hypomania can be very dangerous and destructive. Here are some examples of what mania is. Now, this is not all inclusive and not everyone will have all of these behaviors all of the time. It’s a general idea, and may help you to detect it in a loved one. I know my sister Mandy is hyper-vigilant for me and is watching out all the time for my hypomanic symptoms (thanks Mandy!)
Talking quickly or bouncing from one thought to another:
In a manic episode, one may talk really loudly, quickly, pressured or just not stop talking. They will often play with onomatopoeia and pick random words that rhyme. They can play with alliteration as well, as they enjoy the sounds together. It can make no sense to someone listening. You’ll find that someone that usually stays to the background of social situations will become the life of the party. Now, if someone is commonly this way, that doesn’t mean they are manic. It’s when it is out of character for the person. Someone that is generally careful and slow in choosing words suddenly becomes verbose? That may be a tell.
Lack of sleep
Sleep when bipolar is vital to staying out of a manic episode. If you notice a loved one going on 3 to 4 hours of sleep (and it’s not a side effect of a medication like I’m dealing with right now), and is still feeling rested and productive, that could be a huge sign as well. They will often stay up late and get up really early, all while feeling wonderful and happy. That’s not a fun time in my experience, and is very dangerous for a bipolar person.
Is your loved one tacking a million projects at once? And they just can’t stop moving? Are they starting huge projects at home that is unlike them? I know this is my major symptom of hypomania. I decide I have a million things I want to do at home, like redecorating things or painting or doing crafty things daily. I don’t stop moving. It’s nice after being depressed and NOT doing anything, but it’s a huge sign that something is up with me. Unfortunately, this productivity doesn’t usually manifest in cleaning more…
Risky Behaviors Unlike Them
Some people engage in risky behaviors all the time. That’s not good, but the point here is that one who is usually fairly low on the risk scale will suddenly decide they love gambling. They’ll go online to amazon at 3 am and buy things they don’t need like automatic cat litter boxes (woops). They will go skydiving when they’re terrified of heights (I’ve always wanted to skydive, so if I do end up going, it’s not because I’m manic!). The point is, they partake in risky behavior that is not indicative of who they are on a day to day basis.
If your loved one suddenly believes they are Jesus, this is a huge cause for concern. Manics will often be in delusions and think that Taylor Swift is secretly in love with them. They will decide they need to do huge changes like move to Japan RIGHT NOW. They will think they are incredibly smart and everyone around them becomes annoying because they aren’t as intelligent. Of course, context, context, context. Narcissists will also behave like this sometimes, so don’t go around thinking any jerkface is bipolar!
These are just a couple of the signs of mania. If you feel that someone is manic, they will not believe you when you confront them. Somehow, they’ll need to get into a crisis care unit where they can be put on medications to reduce the mania. Only then will they see their own behavior as maladaptive and recognize there was a problem. That’s what happened to me. Once I got my diagnosis, I spent hours in the psych ward thinking of my life and all of the hypomanic encounters I’d had. My major problem is spending money at 3 am on completely random things, as well as being incredibly irritated with people.